When considering what type of precious gem to purchase for a loved one, maybe your first thought wasn’t the pearl. However, pearls have been worn and enjoyed for several millennia, and they remain a treasured modern accessory.
Likely, you already know about the origin of pearls—the mollusk. If you’ve heard the term “the world is your oyster, and you are the pearl,” that’s the process they’re referring to. However, jewelers in the 17th century were also aware of the origin of these brilliant and gorgeous gems—which is why many of today’s pearls are cultured.
A cultured pearl is grown the same way a natural pearl is—the layering of the beautiful “pearlescent” nacre that forms the gem you know today. The only difference is that by culturing a pearl, the process is started by a farmer, who inserts a bead nucleus into the mollusk, rather than a natural irritant finding its way into the shell. This process of farming a cultured pearl was discovered by Mikimoto Kokichi, a Japanese entrepreneur who founded the well-known pearl jewelry company Mikimoto.
What are the different types of pearls?
Pearls are grown in several different environments across the world, which create a varied size and color from one region to another. Get to know a little bit more about the different types of pearls, as well as the things that make them unique.
Freshwater pearls are generally the least expensive of the several types of pearls, which make them an affordable option for acquiring this beautiful type of jewelry. When you think of a pearl, you likely picture a white or cream-colored, spherical stone. If you are searching for pearl jewelry that meets your expectation of the classic “pearl” look, freshwater pearls will likely be a good option.
Of the many types of pearls available, freshwater pearls have the widest range of size and color—these gems range from 2 to 15 millimeters! If you aren’t sure what size pearl you are most interested in, please consult a member of the Brent L Miller team.
While white is the most common color for freshwater pearls, they can also have overtones of ivory, cream, or rose, and can be treated to darker shades of black.
Akoya pearls are typically considered the “picture-perfect” pearl. These cultured pearls are perfectly round in shape, and while they are grown in Japan and China, they exhibit a brilliant white color that is treasured by pearl lovers all across the world.
These perfect pearls typically range from 5 to 11 millimeters. However, when purchasing Akoya pearls, you can expect to see a natural price jump for pearls larger than 8 millimeters.
Like freshwater pearls, Akoya pearls also come in overtones of rose, cream, and ivory.
Tahitian pearls are often regarded as the most unique pearl. While typical white or cream pearls are a wonderful addition to many forms of attire, Tahitian pearls often act as a statement piece.
These rare pearls are generally black, but individual gems can display shades of grey, blue, green, or purple. Like other varieties of pearl, they also include common overtones. These pearls can take on overtones of steel, blue-green, and peacock.
As you have likely noticed, Tahitian pearls have a fantastic variety of naturally-occurring colors and overtones. Because of this, they are a bold, highly sought-after type of pearl.
If you still aren't sure what type of pearl you're most interested in, please feel free to come in and speak to any of our talented jewelry professionals. They will be happy to assist you in choosing a piece of jewelry that is sure to please.